Bernard Carney has been a full time entertainer for 37 years and with both humorous and serious repertoire, he relates well to a wide range of audiences.
Bernard has released ten successful albums, all recorded in Perth. His 2011 release Fly Above The Weather features family favourites The Feather Foot Fairy and Green Weapons, highlighting local musicians David Hyams on guitar, Roy Martinez on Bass and Angus Diggs on drums.
Bernard has completed a series of seven songs concerning the history and characters of WA’s Rottnest Island and was commissioned to write four songs for the opening of the Western Australian Maritime Museum. These all featured on his CD West.
Bernard’s shows focus on his original songs which are accompanied by a gutsy blues ragtime guitar style and often includes some classy instrumentals. He is a performer who likes to laugh with the audience and the light hearted delivery often belies the hard hitting issues in the songs.
He is a prominent guest at Australia’s major acoustic music festivals, including the Woodford Festival (Queensland), Port Fairy Festival (Victoria), the National Folk Festival (Canberra), the Bridgetown Blues Festival, and the Fairbridge and Nannup Folk Festivals .
He regularly tours the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Singapore and has performed with international artists such as Gene Pitney, Taj Mahal, Foster and Allen, Ralph McTell and Richard Thompson. He had the honour of opening the late Stephane Grapelli’s final concert at the Perth Concert Hall.
Bernard’s busy schedule, other than touring, comprises community concerts in and around Western Australia, instant choirs for conferences and business functions, and tailor made songs for the occasion. He coordinates and hosts the City of Perth’s weekly Tuesday Morning Show and runs song writing and singing and guitar workshops.
2007 saw the birth of the Spirit of the Streets choir, originally put together from sellers of the Big Issue magazine and broadened out to include any potential singer from a disadvantaged background, or long term unemployed or disabled in some way. The choir is all inclusive and has performed at many conferences to do with social welfare and mental health.
In 2008 the choir successfully sold out the Perth Concert Hall in a joint concert with the Perth Male Voice Choir and Working Voices. The Spirit of the Streets goes from strength to strength with an average of 40-50 performances a year.
CD review by Tony Smith
TN2518-77 – $25
TN155 Apr 23
This family ‘album’ has a colourful tree on the sleeve by artist Chloe Brookes-Kenworthy.
Bernard and Eleanor are the roots.
There are two hearts carved in the tree’s trunk, and the family members are named on the – over 20 – leaves of the pear tree.
Bernard wrote all lyrics and music for the 14 tracks and plays guitar and sings.
Supporting Bernard are 10 talented WA musicians, including David Hyams (guitar, Dobro, vocals), Peter Grayling (cello, mandolin), Konrad Park (drums), Angus Diggs (drums), Fred Kuhnl (bass), Graham Local (fretless bass), Erik Kowarski (fiddle), and Jane Cornes, Margie Hanley and Jenny Simpson (backing vocals).
Some of the songs are about one-on-one relationships.
‘A Song for You Tonight’ describes how dreams can be stolen by busy lifestyles.
‘Always Be Loved’ and ‘Over to You’ carry the assurance that regardless of superficial changes an underlying foundation of love is unshakeable.
‘Just Another Day’ has the image of a caged bird coming out each night to sing.
‘Christmas with You’ lists Australian regions which are pleasant to visit especially in their unique seasons such as Easter in Jindabyne and winter in Kakadu.
But the singer notes that he always returns home at Christmas, that all important family time.
The Dobro is an outstanding feature of the instrumental backing on this track.
The bluesy twenties style number ‘She’s the One’ features some great harmonies and tells us that – “she shows me other ways to be, she puts the honey in my tea, she is the bee’s knees, she always sees the good in everything”.
In ‘Family Escapade’, Carney reflects on his own childhood.
This is a song about a seaside outing in Dublin, where ‘sandwiches’ perhaps got their name.
Mention of boreens and some sprightly mandolin give this track a very Irish swing.
‘Feathers and Tributes’ is a reminder that future generations will benefit from knowing something of the life of their forebears and that we in the middle should treasure parental memories.
The remaining tracks are for the children.
‘Cassandra’s Lullaby’ is for the “child of my child”.
This track brings out the cello.
‘Suitcase of Stars’ concerns bringing those precious intangibles to earth.
‘Man in the Moon’ – “he knows all our secrets”.
‘Ask a Guide’ – join a tour and ask a guide and more generally, do not be afraid to ask for help.
‘Feather Foot Fairy’ – named Tian, “flies through mists of time, lunches with a dinosaur”.
In ‘Afternoon Sleep’ – “while you were asleep I played with your toys.
“I pulled all the CDs, books off the shelf”.
These are all very fine arrangements, maximising the sound of instruments such as Dobro, mandolin, fiddle and cello and the harmonies of backing vocalists.
Supporting artists would be pleased to give something back to Bernard Carney who is a skilled community choir leader, mentor and tireless trades union advocate.
While Carney might be best known for the political content of his songs, affection for those closest to him is perfectly consistent with the compassion he shows for strangers in need, such as asylum seekers and refugees.
As well as being fine musically, Family Album displays great love and it should lift the hearts and spirits of anyone who hears it.
As the opening track says, Bernard Carney’s heart and soul is in every line.
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